Renuart, Russian Transparency Improving

Air Force Gen. Gene Renuart, head of NORAD and US Northern Command, said Wednesday that “great progress” is being made in some areas with the Russian Air Force. But the current rift in US-Russia relations over Russia’s invasion of Georgia on Aug. 8 is already having an impact on planned cooperative events. In June, though, Renuart said the Russians, for the first time, filed an ICAO flight plan—as is the international norm— with the Alaskan Air Route Traffic Control Center in Anchorage via their embassy for one of their long-range bomber patrols in and around the Arctic. “They gave us the points they intended to fly and they complied with it,” he told reporters after a Capitol Hill speech. “They flew where they said they were going to do, so that was a great increase in transparency.” But “world events” have caused the cancellation of a NORAD live-fly anti-hijacking exercise planned for next week with the Russians, Renuart said. An aircraft would have taken off from Anchorage and flown to Japan through Russian airspace, with US fighters practicing escort handoff with Russian fighters in their airspace. He said that type of cooperation was “definitely” on the upswing and “we were pleased” with it. As for rescheduling the exercise, Renuart said things depend on how “political events” shake out. “We’ll look for opportunities to bring that exercise back into play at some point,” he said. Earlier this year, Renuart indicated that he would be pursuing increased military-to-military discussions with Russian Far East Military District commanders that would include exchange visits with commanders. Lt. Gen. Dana Atkins, head of US Alaska Command, and 11th Air Force, told the Daily Report in May that he was working with Renuart to invite one of the FEMD commanders to visit Alaska as part of the effort.